It was a very typical Derby morning in Old
Louisville. The day was brilliant, the temperature mild: a
vibrant spring morning. The Kentucky Derby is about tradition, and
nowhere in the city is tradition so keenly felt as here in Old
Louisville. A simple look down the street confirms that.
Except for the blimp hovering in the air above Churchill Downs, the view
is the same as it has been every Derby morning for over one hundred
years. Nowhere else in the city, except maybe Churchill Downs, can you feel this much connection to
the history and the
tradition of the Kentucky Derby.
if you never go to the track, you'll notice that there is something special in the air here
on Derby morning. That's because there seems to be something in the
human spirit that cries out for a time to be ones best...or at least to
look ones best...and enjoy the finest that life has to offer. Speaking
of finery, there's always an impromptu fashion show in Old Louisville on
Derby Morning that can usually only be seen these days in the rarest high
society. Just look at these ladies on an Old Louisville porch. All at once
they turned to greet an offering of mint juleps (of course, in sterling julep
cups, need you ask? The 'holy trinity' of mint julep,
mimosa and Bloody Mary are not hard to find in Old Louisville on Derby
Derby Day, the limousines pass down Third and
Fourth Streets by the dozens on their way from the city center to the
Downs, passing the limos in waiting here in Old Louisville. And
every year, if you know where to look, you'll find Woody, with his pet
parrot Peeky (rotten bird...first-hand experience), sitting on the steps enjoying the promenade. Woody has
lived in Old Louisville for the better part of two decades. He's
restored more than just one Old Louisville mansion, and is very proud, as
most of us here are, of
our little corner of the planet.
that Tammy Faye strolling down Burnett? You bet! You just
never know who you might meet out and about in Old Louisville on Derby Day. And let
us tell you 'that is one sweet lady!' Someone asked her who her
favorite for the big race would be. "Ten Most Wanted,"
she quipped, "Because I already have two husbands in the
then if you happened to attend one of the many Derby brunches in Old
Louisville on Derby Day you may have also run into The
You'll remember her from her role, playing herself, in the film Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Did you know that she
ad-libbed all but two lines in that movie?) And you know what
She's just the same person in real life. Being around her was just
like stepping into the movie in many ways. And for the
morning, Old Louisville seemed a just little bit more like Savannah...
GIRL AT THE RACES
With a vim and swish, she
mounts the coach
In a feathered hat and laces,
And long, pale gloves and high-heeled boots--
Then away and away to the races!
And the coach, youth-burdened,
To the tune of the joy that tops it,
'Till the clean-cut track and gay grand stand
Is the sight alone that tops it.
In that great bouquet, like a
She sways serene--the sinner--
Just underneath her lace corsage
Is tucked a wad for winner.
And she bets with a dash that
scares the men,
Who are doubtful of her sure tips,
But the wad grows big and taunting smiles
makes "told-you-sos" of red lips.
Then here's to her with lots of
And prettiest of faces:
It's horse and girl, not "horse and horse,"
When Louisville's at the races.
---I. S. B.
Poem and graphics from the
Courier-Journal Sunday May 4 1902
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